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At last, some cool heads on global warming January 27, 2010

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
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At last, some cool heads on global warming

The Australian, January 28, 2010

HAS the UN climate change panel run its course as a useful player in global negotiations? Is it time for a less political body to take the lead in assessing the scientific evidence on global warming? These are questions that must be asked as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change faces serious challenges to its credibility. The intervention yesterday by UK chief scientist John Beddington may have sealed the fate of the IPCC, the body set up more than 20 years ago by the UN and since positioned as the authoritative body on climate change data. Throw in Beijing’s doubts yesterday on whether climate change is man-made or natural and it’s clear that scientists are now under intense pressure to prove their claims.

The IPCC will doubtless continue, but public faith in its declarations is evaporating as evidence emerges of the dodgy reporting practices and unsubstantiated claims made in its 2007 report. The document that underpinned the recent Copenhagen climate change summit has been found wanting in its claims on glaciers and the connection between global warming and natural disasters. As Professor Beddington says, “certain unqualified statements have been unfortunate”.

There has long been criticism of the IPCC as a body that has posited certainty when it should have emphasised the caveats to its findings. The Australian has consistently warned against claiming too much authority for the panel, given its composition, its processes and its role as a synthesiser of disparate research findings from thousands of scientists. We have always believed the IPCC reports need to be read with a healthy dose of realism even as we have backed action against the risk of climate change. Three years ago, when the IPCC report was issued, we wrote: “Let there be no mistake: all the signs suggest the need for action . . . but cool heads are essential.” We noted the big story from the report was the “higher level of implied scientific certainty” about anthropogenic warming and predicted the debate would be pushed out of the laboratory and into the political arena.

It has proved to be so, with politicians unwilling to manage the uncertainties and gaps in science as they push their constituencies to action. Still, nothing prepared us for the sloppy reporting, including the extraordinary process by which claims on the melting of glaciers were based on a third-hand news report. Our planet deserves better than that.

Where to from here? There seems little doubt we will see more examples of IPCC exaggeration: finding holes in the report is beginning to feel like shooting fish in a barrel. These investigations are important. The premise behind global action – that the world is heating at a dangerous rate and that we can do something about it – needs to be rigorously tested. If we are to sign up to systems such as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, let’s do it on the facts.

Much of what is in the IPCC report still stands, but its flaws can no longer be glossed over in the search for a workable consensus on global action. The good news from this debacle is that climate change science and the claims made on its behalf, will now receive proper scrutiny. After the hyperbole leading up to Copenhagen, a more rational analysis is emerging.



1. klem - January 27, 2010

Climate change is a socialist movement. It is designed to use science as an excuse to scare the world into accepting a new centrally controlled world government. It has failed thus far. So the idea of replacing it with a more honest sceince based organization misses the point. It is not about the science, it has always been about money and central control. The sceince is irrelevant.

2. anne - January 28, 2010

I hope people are not taken in by Bebbington, he is a professor of economics and population biology, his experience is in the management of fisheries, he is not a climate scientist or geologist. If he had any knowlege of the atmosphere he would know that CO2 gives life to this planet and that most of it comes from the sea. They think we are really stupid and easily deceived and can be shut up by “what they see as giving the SKEPTICS a voice”. People please think if the governments of the world were really scared that AGW was happening they would not fly in private jets and use private limo’s, look at them now all pontificating in London, all have travelled by private jets and cars. Here in UK people are freezing and many elderly dying as we cannot afford heating. They just want to tax us and think we will shut up and pay as we are supposedly guilty of polluting the planet, they are scaring our children with emotive and lying ads, paid for by us. They have no intention of listening to the real climatologists (the biggest hint is 90% certainty and would you get on a plane if there was only 10% chance of it not crashing) what absolute liars, con men (and women)

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